There are as many reasons to blog as there are people on Earth. Whether it’s to use a blog as a personal diary, a means to share something you are passionate about (like cooking, as my wife does), a “voice” for your professional career or something else, eventually the question comes up: should I try and earn advertising income from Google AdSense from my readership?
In my opinion, unless you’ve got a massive “clicky” readership, probably not.
How much traffic is “enough” to make money from Google AdSense?
As you can see from this blog (as of time of writing at least), I’m running Google AdSense on this blog, which is primarily WordPress and Web Analytics themed. I’m also running ads on my other blog, The Fuqua Experience, which is truly a niche blog about the Duke Cross Continent MBA program. So two niche blogs, relatively speaking (i.e. not celebrity gossip, technology rumors, politics, or other general interest topics).
On average, there are 2-3 ads per page (primarily leaderboards and skyscrapers), which is the limit for Google. So much money am I making? Less than the cost of Deluxe Hosting with GoDaddy!
CPM, CPC…what’s the most efficient way to make money using Google AdSense?
When looking at the Google AdSense reporting, it’s clear that “Cost per Click” is the way to make money with Google AdSense. A few thousand page views will get you a few pennies (Cost per Thousand impressions, or CPM), but an actual click-through to the advertisers website will get you something like 10x the CPM rate. Here’s a chart of my of weekly performance over 28 months or so:
It’s easy to see that even with 3,000-6,000 page views per week across my two blogs, I’m not making a ton of money. If my audience feels particularly “clicky” on the contextual ads Google AdSense serves, I make between $2-$5 per week. GoDaddy Deluxe Hosting costs something like $6 per month for unlimited websites on a shared server, so clearly I’m not breaking the bank here! If I’m lucky, I’m clearing a few dollars per month in profit (excluding the time I actually maintain the two blogs through writing, site development, etc.)
So, who IS making money through Google AdSense advertising?
Monetizing a blog is a Catch-22. If you don’t have enough readership, you won’t make a ton of money. If you do have a huge readership like Drudge or Perez Hilton, you can sell ads directly to advertisers without needing the Google AdSense network. Somewhere in-between, it MAY be worth adding Google AdSense or participating in other affiliate marketing programs.
Heck, maybe you’re an SEO god with a whole network of MFA (Made-for-AdSense) blogs with highly targeted content. I do have friends who seem to make enough money through these schemes to make it “worth it” to do. Especially if you’re willing to put in the time to make dozens, if not hundreds of individual blog sites.